Every person today has the opportunity to learn at their fingertips. Social networks are established where millions of learners collaborate, communicate, think creatively, and critically solve problems. Excellent educators today take advantage of these networks by sharing and learning 24/7. This post outlines 5 examples of what educators can gain from networking!

1. You don't have to reinvent the wheel - 24/7 there are thousands of cutting edge ideas floating around social networks. If you take the time to find them or find the source, you will save time and headaches creating this from scratch. Find hashtags of topics that interest you and bookmark sites to read later. Learning happens on the fly on social networks.

2. You have MORE co-workers -  Networking expands your teachers lounge from the members in your building, to hundreds of thousands of participants. Once you find a new co-worker, you can co-teach classes, share lessons or units, or simply be a sounding board for each other. When I taught Kindergarten, we connect two times a month with a class across the nation! Showing your students how to have a positive, global connection is more powerful than your best "traditional" lesson.

3. You have an emotional safeguard - Sharing your feelings, thoughts, and reflections on social networks can be an extremely important step into a teachers mind shift. I say that with caution because sharing consistently negative emotion will not benefit you. Participating in a Twitter chat based on a passion of yours will allow you to voice your opinion while not compromising your relationship with the people around you.

4. You gain 21st century teacher skills - The 4C's are probably the most important skills you can model/teach to your students. Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking are basics of social networks and help you to scaffold your own understanding of these ideas and aid you in the transfer of these skills into your classroom.

5. You make friends - Too many times I go to a conference and run into people who are my friends on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. I am always humbled by the person who approaches me and praises me for the posts that I put out! It truly changes the way you go about teaching and sharing!

With the many options of social networks being available 24/7, it is silly for you as an educator not to be taking advantage of them. I challenge you to use social networks to learn something today and then share what you learned!